Taking Pictures: How To Hold Your Camera

Sounds like a silly topic, doesn’t it? You hold you camera with your hands, don’t you? What’s so hard about that?

Not so fast, my friends.

Most people I see picking up cameras in the store hold them the same way:

  • The right hand is wrapped around the end of the camera, which usually has a grip on that side. Right index finger is curled up over the top of the camera, ready to press the shutter button.
  • The left hand has a firm grip on the opposite side of the camera. The thumb is placed up along the rear of the camera, and the index finger is gripping the front. It often looks awkward, because the person is trying to figure out how to fit the fingers of their left hand so they don’t block the lens, the viewfinder, the flash, or any of those other mysterious holes on the front of the camera. (More about those in another posting)

The other thing I’ve noticed with digital cameras is that people tend to hold the camera out away from their body, so they can look at the screen. Some of the digital cameras don’t even have a viewfinder now, so this seems like it’s necessary, doesn’t it?

Let’s take another look, shall we?

Right hand – fine, no problem. That’s your “control hand,” the one that is going to operate the shutter and other camera controls. It’s also the primary hand for tilting the camera.

The left hand is the “support hand.” Sort of like a tripod for the camera. It should have a sure grip on the camera, and should be bearing most of the weight. And most of all, it should be steady.

Place the left hand under the camera. The left thumb should be pointed upward, on the left side of the camera. The body of the camera should rest on the palm, and on the outstretched pinky and ring finger. The index finger should curl up around the lens. If you are using a camera which requires you to rotate the lens to focus or to zoom in, the left thumb should come up on the other side of the lens. With a little practice, you will find this grip to be more comfortable. More to the point, the camera will be more stable.

One more thing about stability, though: the upper part of the left arm should be held hard against your body. If you want to hold the camera away from your face to look at the screen, then bend at the elbow, but keep the upper arm stiff against you. This gives you solid support for the camera. And the better your support, the less likely you are to have a blurry picture because the camera moved.